Music is not fireworks, music is feeling

Almost exactly one year ago, thousands of Europeans gathered around their screens to watch the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’, all expecting to hear the typical (sometimes innovative... but typical) festival pop songs that would entertain them for a few hours, and then fall into the black hole of their memory.

And then a man, bearded and with his shoulder length hair in a half-up hairdo, walked up to the microphone with nothing but a suit too large for him and a heart on his sleeve and silenced them all.

Salvador Sobral is a twenty-eight year old musician from Lisbon, Portugal. He began studying ‘Psychology’ in Lisbon, but decided to drop out to pursue his dream in music schools in Spain (Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona). He focused on voice and piano, sculpting his delicate, soulful voice into something truly magical.

Salvador and a school friend performing After You’ve Gone on the streets of Barcelona.

He’s always felt very strongly about his love for jazz and alternative rock, and his strong dislike for meaningless pop... especially when it came to ‘Eurovision’: “We live in a world of disposable music, fast food music without any content. (...) Music is not fireworks, music is feeling. So let’s try to change this, and bring music back, which is really what matters”.

In 2017, his sister and fellow musician Luísa, wrote a song and convinced him to perform it at the popular contest. He accepted, and not only did he get in and become a distinguished favorite through the semi-finals... but he won.

‘Amar Pelos Dois’. A jazz ballad about unrequited love, with influences ranging from the Great American Songbook to bossanova. Just a simple instrumental and his voice, in Portuguese, clear over the loudspeakers. You could have heard a pin drop.

Se um dia alguém, perguntar por mim

Diz que vivi para te amar

Antes de ti, só existi

Cansado e sem nada para dar


If one day someone asks about me

Tell them I lived to love you

Before you, I only existed

Tired and with nothing to give

Few people understood the lyrics, but thousands understood the song. The applause flooded in. The crowd couldn’t wait for him to finish. People cried and hugged their friends, my family and I stared at our screen with our jaw dropped. Luísa’s song poured from his every movement and word, pained and passionate and pure

Some people, ‘Eurovision’ fans and pop music advocates that don’t like to think of their favorite songs as “fast food music”, didn’t agree with Salvador’s opinions, and he received a large amount of hateful backlash. 

But I think that beyond his opinions, beyond people’s likes and dislikes and the craze that surrounds the European song contest, Salvador and Luísa gave us something really special that night. And their performance will go down in history; if not on records, then in all of our hearts.